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Train in Vain: Liberals derailed

John Bell

July 17, 2022
Liberal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced he was going to travel across the country by train, to promote low-emission travel alternatives. Maybe he should have done a bit of research – or better yet, consulted a few non-driving Canadians – before he spoke.
The plan has been derailed by the dreadful state of rail service. There is no regular, reliable cross-country train service. There is no rail service at all to 5 provincial capitals, and 2 others are only served twice weekly. Outside the Windsor-Montreal corridor and the tourist supported route through the Rockies, decades of neglect from successive federal governments have allowed passenger service to deteriorate and die.
Where service remains, rolling stock is antiquated and unreliable. Via Rail service delays are so frequent even on its crucial Toronto-Montreal line, that it offers credit for late arrivals of more than an hour.
Part of the problem is that passenger and freight trains share the same track, and freight is given priority. Via travellers are no stranger to idling on sidings while endless freights rumble past.
Guilbeault should have read his own government’s unmet 2021 promise to add a second track and introduce high-speed service between Toronto and Montreal. It is scandalous it doesn’t already exist. But even if it did, it would do nothing to address the lack of sustainable travel alternatives. 
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